The Parliament and Council of Europe, after a year of debate, have come to a provisional political agreement on the directive concerning firearms. The political agreement has been ratified by permanent representatives of the member states before the EU (COREPER). Now all that is needed is confirmation by the Commission of the European Single Market and, afterwards, the approval of Parliament itself in order to be formally adopted by the EU cabinet.
At the end of 2015, the Commission proposed a review of current European regulations concerning the use and acquisition of firearms with the aim of:
- Making it difficult to buy top-of-the-range firearms legally in the European Union
- Providing enhanced monitoring of legal possession of weapons to reduce the risk of redirecting them towards the illegal market
- Improving cooperation between member states
The political agreement which has provisionally been reached maintains most of the proposals made by the Commission like prohibiting the practice of transforming automatic firearms into semi-automatic firearms, which is included in the directive corresponding to weapons collectors and museums, as are the regulation of acoustic weapons and sale via Internet, unused weapons and the improvement in the exchange of information between member states.
The Commission’s proposal was much more ambitious because it contemplated total prohibition of the most dangerous semi-automatic firearms, including all those semi-automatic firearms pertaining to the AK47 and AR15 families, and preventing private collectors from owning assault weapons. The Commission also regrets the fact that chargers for semi-automatic firearms have not been limited to ten bullets.
However, keeping in mind that the agreement means an improvement to the present situation, the Commission considers that an agreement like this one is preferable to an adjournment of the application of the directive.
As well as the technical norms, applicable since April 2016, which harmonise prerequisites to deny the use of firearms , the directive reduces the risk of any arm which is legal but dangerous falling into the hands of criminals or terrorists.
Indiscriminate skirmishes with firearms and terrorist attacks committed in Europe provide sound evidence of the dangers posed by legal and illegal firearms circulating all over Europe.
Concerning the basis of the European Agenda on Security passed in April 2015, the Commission presented a series of proposals to enhance legal acquisition and possession of firearms in the autumn of the same year and an action plan to fight against the illegal trafficking of firearms and explosives.
Links of interest
Directive on firearms: frequent questions — MEMO/16/4465
The Commission’s proposal to modify the directive on firearms
Report on the assessment of the Directive on firearms
Practical regulations concerning the decommissioning of weapons
European Agenda on Security
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